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Middleton’s absence didn’t dampen Kennedy’s A&M debut


Mike Miller

Billy Kennedy’s first Texas A&M victory wasn’t perfect – star wing Khris Middleton is out four weeks with an injury – but it hardly mattered.

It was a relief just to be on the sidelines.

Kennedy, hired over the summer to replace Mark Turgeon, announced last month he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had been on a leave absence from the team, per doctor’s orders. He missed Midnight Madness, the opening win against Liberty, but was finally back for Sunday’s victory over Southern.

His players ensured the outcome was never in doubt. (The odds of an upset were slim anyway.)

“We’re glad to have coach back,” Elston Turner said. “We’ve been praying for him, and making sure his family is getting support in this situation.”

Kennedy had started attending practices last week, but hadn’t set a timetable for his return. Provided his doctors are pleased with his health, there’s no reason to expect him to miss any more games.

The Aggies need that, too. The Big 12’s wide open this season, what with depth issues at Kansas and Texas and Baylor’s chemistry still being worked out.

Eventually, Kennedy can focus on all that. For now, he gets to enjoy that first win and decent health.

“I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to coach a good group of young men and have a coaching staff and administration that’s supported me this last month,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a hard time — the most difficult time I’ve ever been through. I’m not fully recovered yet, but I’m getting there.”

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